Secretary General Guterres. Photo–Flickr
The United Nations.
New York City
Dear Secretary General Antonio Guterres,
Visit the South Sudanese refugees but don’t let Gen. Yoweri Museveni politicize the tragedy.
You know for a fact that Uganda’s Gen. Yoweri Museveni is primarily responsible for the South Sudan catastrophe; the armed conflict, the killings of civilians, and the humanitarian refugee crisis.
This has been well-documented in numerous media accounts as well as the Report of the Panel of Experts to the United Nations Security Council submitted in April 2013. While the Ugandan people must be congratulated for generously hosting their sisters and brothers –the more than 800,000 refugees who have fled their homes in South Sudan and now reside in Uganda, why should the U.N. lend diplomatic cover to Gen. Museveni by co-hosting the “refugee solidarity” conference in Uganda which you are reportedly going to attend?
Visiting the refugee camps is one thing –which is what you should do — but allowing Gen. Museveni to turn the plight of the victims into political capital would be adding pain to the suffering.
Your participation at a conference in Uganda on June 22 hosted by Gen. Museveni would be tantamount to providing political and diplomatic cover and legitimacy to the arsonist who added fuel to the raging fire in South Sudan. How would your appearance at the conference alongside Gen. Museveni not be construed as downplaying or even endorsing Uganda’s military intervention in the South Sudan conflict? How would the United Nations and the international community subsequently hold Gen. Museveni accountable for his negative role in the South Sudan conflict? Because the Ugandan people are generously hosting victims of the war dictator Museveni is to suddenly be absolved of his culpability?
As a seasoned diplomat, politician, and former prime minister, you must have been aware of the implications of your impending participation in the conference alongside Gen. Museveni, who is eager to score a public relations advantage — to deflect attention from his negative role.
Mr. Secretary General you are aware that:
1. When a political dispute materialized in December 2013 between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar, rather than acting like an honest broker/mediator as the other IGAD countries attempted to — the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF) intervened militarily in support of one faction in the dispute; President Salva Kiir.
2. You are aware of the atrocities against South Sudanese civilians committed by the UPDF and Salva Kiir’s army.
3. You are aware that Human Rights Watch documented the use of cluster bombs, which are internationally banned, by the UPDF in the South Sudan conflict.
4. You are aware that the Ugandan military intervention exacerbated the political crisis and turned it into an armed civil war with both Salva Kiir’s army and the armed forces loyal to Riek Machar, including deserters from the national army, committing atrocities against civilians.
5. You are aware that after the IGAD countries painstakingly negotiated the deal that created, in August 2015, the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) President Salva Kiir signed only after appending a set of objections to the Agreement because he believed that the military support afforded him by Gen. Museveni would give him advantage over Vice President Kiir should he decide to abrogate the agreement.
6. You are aware that in July 2016, President Salva Kiir did in fact abrogate the agreement that created TGoNU when he again attacked the residence of Vice President Machar and drove him out of the country for a second time.
7. You are aware that the Report of the Panel of Experts to the Security Council states that weapons continue to reach President Salva Kiir through Uganda, and possibly from Egypt, thereby contributing to the continuation of the genocidal killings — and that the Panel’s Report recommended an arms embargo.
8. You are aware that the Report of the Panel of Experts to the Security Council states that a Hungarian mercenary pilot Tibor Czingáli who is a consultant to the Ugandan airforce, has conducted military operations on behalf of President Kiir in South Sudan.
9. You are aware that the Report of the Panel of Experts concluded that the current regime in South Sudan, which excludes the SPLM/A-IO (In opposition — who are loyal to Riek Machar) is dominated by President Kiir and that the “national dialogue” he proposes is a sham under his control.
10. You are aware that the Report of the Panel of Experts to the Security Council states that there can’t be any sustainable peaceful resolution of the conflict in South Sudan without the participation of Riek Machar.
In light of the above your personal participation in the “refugee solidarity” conference would be tantamount to absolving Gen. Museveni from accountability for the negative role he has played in exacerbating the South Sudan calamity. So while visiting the camps to see the victims of the conlfict Gen. Museveni helped ignite is a good thing, keep an arms-length distance from the dictator.
Don’t let Gen. Museveni use you, the United Nations, and the plight of the refugees from a war that Gen. Museveni helped exacerbate, for political, diplomatic and public relations purposes.